Metro government may place onus on parents in youth sex crackdown

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has been studying the feasibility of passing a law obliging parents and guardians to prevent schoolchildren from having sex, officials said Tuesday.

Metropolitan officials, however, are divided over the plan, whose sponsors say is aimed at putting a brake on the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and abortions among the young. Some oppose it on grounds of privacy issues and believe it would be counterproductive.

Tokyo Vice Gov. Yutaka Takehana, a former senior police official currently heading the metropolitan panel on juvenile measures, called for formulating such an ordinance, which would not impose any penalty.

“Establishing the obligations for parents and other adults to make efforts to that end would mean to convey their concern for children,” he said.

The metro government will set up a committee of experts, including junior high school teachers, on Wednesday to discuss the envisioned ordinance, as well as a broad range of issues on youth sex, and to recommend other measures.

Gynecologist Tsuneo Akaeda, likely to be on the committee, said: “There are a lot of young girls who don’t know how to refuse when their boyfriends want to have sex. So how about making an ordinance to ban youths from having sex prior to graduation from junior high school?”

However, Sayoko Ishii, a lawyer familiar with juvenile problems, said, “The situation won’t change if we do not get the children themselves to think about sex through parent-child discussions and school education.

“Saying ‘no’ with an ordinance would simply make youths rebel, and the obligation on the parents would increase their woes,” Ishii said.

Metropolitan officials said they are also considering gathering opinions from children and parents on the matter.

According to the metro government, sexual activity, including having unprotected sex, is spreading among younger children.

In a survey carried out by teachers in 2002, 6.8 percent of boys and 8.7 percent of girls in Tokyo said they have had sex by their third year in junior high school. This was up 1.5 percentage points for boys and 5.4 points for girls compared with a survey in 1999.